Ban voices sympathy to family after UN staffer’s remains found in Lebanon

23 November 2009
Elaine Collett (left), wife of Alec Collett, gives Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a memorial pin on 25 March 2008

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his sympathies to the family of Alec Collett, a staff member of the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees who disappeared 24 years ago and whose remains have now been found in Lebanon.

Mr. Collett, a former British journalist, was on assignment for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) when he was abducted by armed men near Beirut Airport in 1985.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced his appreciation for the role played by the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom and in Lebanon to resolve this matter after so many years, and for the work done by the UN Department of Safety and Security in helping to determine what happened to Mr. Collett.

“Although he is saddened by Alec Collett’s death, he hopes that the actions taken to find his remains can provide a measure of comfort to his loved ones,” read the statement.

Mr. Ban also restated the UN’s commitment to assist Mr. Collett’s family in the days ahead.

The UN Staff Union, in a statement, noted that Mr. Collett’s fate “symbolizes the fate of too many staff members who have just ‘disappeared’ or have been detained for long periods while serving the Organization.”

It added that 25 March – the day of Mr. Collett’s abduction – will continue to be observed as the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members, to draw global attention to the risks faced throughout the world by the media, and staff and peacekeepers of the UN and other relief agencies.


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